Judge won't tell McCanns to return

Sep 18, 2007
Daily Mail
Simon Cable

The judge presiding over the case against Kate and Gerry McCann has refused to order the couple to return to Portugal for more questioning, it was revealed yesterday. Portuguese detectives are understood to have wanted Madeleine McCann's parents and their seven holiday friends to return to the Algarve. But judge Pedro Anjos Frias is said to have ruled that the evidence is not substantial enough to warrant such a move.

The decision is a sign that the tide might finally be turning in favour of the McCanns, who have endured limitless speculation that they had a hand in their daughter's disappearance. The responsibility of questioning the couple will now be handed to British police, who will work on behalf of their Portuguese counterparts.

That could happen as early as this week, although Portuguese authorities will first have to make a formal request to British police - a process which is likely to take longer as all the evidence has to be translated into English. Portuguese detectives remain keen to sit in on any interviews conducted in this country but it is believed that any attempt to do so would be blocked by British officials.

According to reports, officers are working on the theory that Madeleine - then three - was administered a lethal overdose of sedatives by her mother, while the child's body was disposed of with the help of her father. The latest ruling, though, suggests the case against the doctors could be weakening. Nevertheless, experts point out that the judge may simply have taken the view that it would be easier to question the McCanns in Britain for the time being.

A spokesman for the McCann family said: 'We have been in touch with the lawyers to try to get a steer on what's in the Portuguese papers. 'They assure us we've had no request to date for any further questioning either from Portuguese police or in the UK.' The McCanns were given permission by detectives to return home to the UK, even though had been named as official suspects in the case.

They have openly stated their intentions to co-operate with detectives and return to the Algarve if requested. It is thought that police now want the couple, and their seven friends who accompanied them on holiday to the resort in Praia da Luz, to re-enact the events of the night Madeleine went missing.

Yesterday Mr McCann voiced his frustration on his internet weblog, bitterly describing the allegations against him and his wife as 'rumour, innuendo and wild speculation'. Thanking the family's supporters for their kind messages, he added: 'It means so much to us to know that so many people have not been deceived.' Last night the McCanns' new spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: 'Kate and Gerry want to get the message out that they are entirely innocent and have nothing to hide. 'They want to clear their names so that police can get on with the job of finding their daughter.'

Mr McCann's sister Philomena has also launched an online petition to gather signatures from those convinced that the McCanns are innocent. She hopes that her 'Gerry And Kate McCann Are Innocent' petition - at www.ipetitions.com - will convince the Government to put pressure on Portuguese police to improve their search..


The McCanns have directly appealed to Gordon Brown to believe in their innocence. They want him to be personally aware of the strength of their 'rock solid' defence. Sources close to the couple stressed they expect no help from the Prime Minister.

Gerry McCann spoke on the phone to fellow Scot Mr Brown several times in the early days of Madeleine's disappearance, and has since talked to Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

But all ministerial contact was severed once they were named suspects in the case. However, lines of communication were reopened yesterday and Mr McCann is believed to have sent the Prime Minister an email.

A source said: 'They have not spoken to any ministers since they were declared arguidos and do not expect to have further contact until they are cleared. It's a sensitive issue. 'But Gerry wants them to be aware at the highest level of the strength of their case and to defend themselves. No. 10 is being kept informed of all developments in the case.'

Mr Brown was personally involved right from the first days of Madeleine's disappearance, when he was Chancellor and the McCanns were desperately contacting anyone they thought might be able to help.

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